VizNet: Towards A Large-Scale Visualization Learning and Benchmarking Repository

Kevin Hu MIT Media Lab

Snehalkumar "Neil" S. Gaikwad MIT Media Lab

Madelon Hulsebos MIT Media Lab

Michiel Bakker MIT Media Lab

Emanuel Zgraggen MIT CSAIL

César Hidalgo MIT Media Lab

Tim Kraska MIT CSAIL

Guoliang Li Tsinghua University

Arvind Satyanarayan MIT CSAIL

Çağatay Demiralp MIT CSAIL

ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2019

VizNet enables data scientists and visualization researchers to aggregate data, enumerate visual encodings, and crowdsource efectiveness evaluations.


Researchers currently rely on ad hoc datasets to train automated visualization tools and evaluate the effectiveness of visualization designs. These exemplars often lack the characteristics of real-world datasets, and their one-off nature makes it difficult to compare different techniques. In this paper, we present VizNet: a large-scale corpus of over 31 million datasets compiled from open data repositories and online visualization galleries. On average, these datasets comprise 17 records over 3 dimensions and across the corpus, we find 51% of the dimensions record categorical data, 44% quantitative, and only 5% temporal. VizNet provides the necessary common baseline for comparing visualization design techniques, and developing benchmark models and algorithms for automating visual analysis. To demonstrate VizNet’s utility as a platform for conducting online crowdsourced experiments at scale, we replicate a prior study assessing the influence of user task and data distribution on visual encoding effectiveness, and extend it by considering an additional task: outlier detection. To contend with running such studies at scale, we demonstrate how a metric of perceptual effectiveness can be learned from experimental results, and show its predictive power across test datasets.